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Cooling Efficiency and Performance

We won’t have the traditional description of the testbed configuration and testing methodology today, because nothing has changed compared to our earlier articles. We are still using a well-ventilated system case with all of our traditional components. The room temperature during our test session is still at the same 24°C. And as for competitors, ARCTIC Freezer 13 PRO didn’t need any, because we were trying to figure out the cooler’s efficiency throughout the entire test session.

The thing is that this large and relatively well-equipped cooler simply refused to cool our six-core processor the way a cooler of its status and price should. We tried installing it two different ways (with the heatpipes going across and along the processor), we tried replacing the thermal paste with ARCTIC MX-2 applied in a thinner and more even layer, we checked and rechecked the retention pressure and even used additional washers to increase the hold even more. But all our efforts resulted in a very modest, or I should even say rather low, CPU overclocking result: 4.3 GHz at 1.39375 V Vcore and 95°C peak temperature of the hottest core:

ARCTIC Freezer 13 PRO at 1350 RPM fan speed

Of course, it is better than 4.2 GHz at 1.335625 V and the same 95°C, which we saw by the junior ARCTIC Freezer 13, but unfortunately, this is a total fiasco compared with the competitors from the same and even lower price range. For example, the well-known Zalman CNPS10X Performa priced at about $40, cools the similarly overclocked processor 12 degrees better at 1000 RPM fan speed. Do I have to say that with such low overall efficiency the additional small fan at the bottom doesn’t really matter? Anyway, disabling this little fan didn’t have any effect on the results.


Looks like the number “13” is indeed an unlucky number for ARCTIC. After all how else could we explain such low cooling efficiency of their new ARCTIC Freezer 13 PRO cooler? Yes, its design has a few issues, such as non-optimal heatpipes layout inside the heatsink body, use of pressing instead of soldering for the heatsink structure, lack of heatsink optimizations on airflow entry and insufficient pressure provided by the cooler retention. Nevertheless, even with all these issues, the cooler should work better than what we have just seen. Since the junior model we discussed before also doesn’t break any performance records, we dare assume that ARCTIC uses not the most efficient heatpipes, even though all the leaders in this field such as Zalman and Thermalright have already switched.

Anyway, we can’t recommend ARCTIC Freezer 13 PRO, even if simple installation is what you are after in the first place. And we would certainly wish the company famous for making the best VGA coolers out there and remarkable thermal interfaces to really focus on improving the cooling efficiency of their CPU products and maybe even remove the notorious number “13” from their model names, just in case :)

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